WE ARE NOT FREE
This week I have been wearing my Governor’s hat and interviewing applicants for the headship of a great inner London comprehensive. In the final round shortlisted candidates were asked to descibe their vision for the school. They had about an hour to prepare, but in effect they had had six weeks if not a whole career to think about this rather obvious question.
They all spoke well. Some used power point, some used flip charts, some just relied on natural eloquence. But ALL said basically the same thing – that their vision for the future of my school was to do well in Ofsted inspections and in the DfE performance tables. That was it.
Now this school is an Academy and so in theory the new head could envisage a future which went miles beyond Ofsted and the DfE. But the applicants, all heads and deputies from schools which held an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grade, could hardly see beyond the next inspection. That was their vision of the future.
Our schools have become shackled, our heads and deputies single-minded in their devotion to centrally-determined measures. Our Academies are supposed to have independence and freedom, yet they seldom use it. Compared to the independent sector, our schools are a very very long way from being free and this lack of freedom is damaging them.
So we failed to appoint. Now begins the search (again) for a head who can see beyond the methodologies and accountability measures of the state.